Proper British Fish Cakes


I've been streaming a lot of British cooking shows lately, which is what inspired this. Not only do these look and taste amazing, they are also very inexpensive to make. Serve with watercress and lemon wedges.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
20 mins
Additional Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
50 mins
4 fish cakes

As you might know, I'm a big fan of the Great British Baking Show, or "Bake Off" as Mary Berry would call it, and I've posted many dessert videos over the years inspired by things I've seen these famously cheerful contestants make. It was one of my favorite go-to programing choices when surfing Netflix, but eventually I ran out of episodes, and I've been patiently waiting for new shows to air.

In the meantime, while enjoying a free trial on Hulu, I stumbled across a similar show, focusing on savory foods, called Britain's Best Home Cook. It has everything I love about the GBBS, including Mary Berry, and a whole new, TV-based culinary muse was born. This British fish cake is the first offering inspired by this very entertaining, feel-good show.

I'm a huge fan of fish, mashed potatoes, and crispy fried things, so it's no surprise this is one of my favorite things to eat, and whether it's done in pan, or deep-fryer, I can't get enough of this comforting classic. The easy technique will work no matter what type of fish, or seasonings you use, but whether you make your own version, or follow this recipe verbatim, I really do hope you give this (and the show, if you haven't seen it) a try soon.

a crispy-looking fish cake cut to show the flaky interior, with tartar sauce and salad in the background
Chef John


For the Tartar Sauce:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon

  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

For the Fish Cakes:

  • ½ cup milk

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 pound cod, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 12 ounces russet potato, peeled and quartered

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley

  • 1 tablespoon sliced fresh chives

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the Breading:

  • cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs, or as needed

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil, or as needed


  1. Mix mayonnaise, capers, shallot, parsley, tarragon, horseradish, mustard, and cayenne together in a bowl for tartar sauce and refrigerate until needed.

  2. Add milk and bay leaf to a saucepan and place the pieces of fish over the top. Season with salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. As soon as the fish firms up, but before it starts to flake apart, turn off the heat and cover. Let sit for 5 minutes before draining. Let cool, about 10 minutes. Refrigerate until needed.

  3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add russet potato and boil until tender but not falling apart.

  4. Drain and mash potato in a bowl. Season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Add parsley, chives, and lemon zest; add 1 tablespoon tartar sauce mixture. Mix until combined. Flake chilled fish over the top. Mix until combined.

  5. Scoop out ¼ of the mixture and form into a patty. Repeat with remaining mixture.

  6. Dust cakes with flour on both sides. Brush both sides of cakes with beaten egg. Coat in bread crumbs.

  7. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Pan-fry patties in the hot oil until golden brown and heated through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels before serving with tartar sauce.

    a crispy-looking fish cake on a plate with tartar sauce and salad in the background

Chef's Notes:

You can use haddock instead of cod if you can find it.

Cakes can be pan-fried, shallow-fried, or deep-fried at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) until the outside is golden brown and they're heated through.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

623 Calories
39g Fat
45g Carbs
29g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 623
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 39g 50%
Saturated Fat 7g 33%
Cholesterol 108mg 36%
Sodium 553mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 45g 17%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Protein 29g
Potassium 942mg 20%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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